Marianne Paquette has taken the helm of a new WildSafeBC Hitacu-Macoah program. (WildSafeBC photo)

Hitacu and Macoah welcome new WildSafeBC coordinator

Marianne Paquette will also cover Electoral Area C.

The West Coast has a new WildSafeBC coordinator.

The Alberni Clayoquot Regional District has partnered with the Ucluelet First Nation and Toquaht First Nation to establish a new position aimed at educating residents and visitors on managing their attractants and boost the area’s ability to co-exist harmoniously with wildlife.

Marianne Paquette began training for her new role in May and was delighted at the opportunity to combine her two passions: environmental science and communications.

“This position is the perfect combination of working through communications to really get engagement through the community and also working in environmental science in relation to wildlife and trying to keep wildlife wild and the community safe,” she said. “It’s touching on all of my interests and it’s a really nice opportunity for me.”

Paquette said she moved to Tofino from Montreal about four years ago in pursuit of West Coast waves and quickly became enamoured with her new home.

“I’m loving it,” she said. “Originally, I wanted to learn how to surf and I just fell in love with the West Coast. I fell in love with Tofino, the community, the area and the amazing wildlife we have around here.”

Her coordinator role will focus on the First Nations communities of Macoah and Hitacu, as well as Electoral Area C throughout the summer and fall, wrapping up for the season on Nov. 30.

“It’s been really great being able to meet with the communities. This is a new position so I’m trying to get a lot of information about where the hotspots are and what kind of attractants we have in different areas,” she said.

She added issues around attractant management are hyper-specific to each area and she’s been mapping out where problems have occurred in the past to work towards sustainable solutions.

She said she’s also been working with campgrounds to make sure campsites are bare.

“Everybody’s very receptive. People here like wildlife, everybody enjoys, for the most part, living closely with wildlife and are interested to learn more and that’s our role, to bring the learning to the community and get the resources out so people are aware of how to help their communities stay safe and that wildlife wild,” she said. “I’ve had amazing communications with people and it’s been a lot of insight for me to see what’s been happening.”

She added that while she’s new to the position, she’s benefitted from working alongside well-established WildSafeBC Pacific Rim coordinator Bob Hansen, whose coordination efforts encompass Tofino and Ucluelet.

“Bob’s amazing. He’s been a mentor to me,” she said. “It’s really, really interesting to listen to his experiences and he’s been extremely helpful…It’s been amazing and I’m so thankful I have Bob because a lot of communities don’t have someone like that to help me out. I’ve loved working with Bob.”

Any residents or visitors interested in learning more about co-existing with wildlife are encouraged to reach out to Paquette through the WildSafeBC Hitacu-Macoah Facebook page, or 514-622-7317.

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